Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Leonor Varela, Ron Perlman, Danny John-Jules, Luke Goss
Rated: R for strong pervasive violence, language, some drug use and sexual content.
Parental Notes: The pervasive violence of “Blade II” makes it unsuitable for all but older teens with a thing for horror-action films.
This seems to be the year of sequels, with “Men in Black II,” “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” “The Two Towers” (part 2 of “The Lord of the Rings”) and “Blade II” all coming out. “Blade II,” the first to make its appearance, bodes well if the others are following in its wake in more than their release dates. True to the spirit of the first film, it doesn’t surpass it, but does deliver plenty of the same satisfying vampiric butt-kicking.
The storyline is simple. Blade (Wesley Snipes), a half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter, is the most notorious vampire slayer around. Imbued with the strength and speed of vampires but lacking most of their weaknesses, he’s a perfect killing machine. Naturally enough, when a new, nastier breed of vampires, dubbed “Reapers” show up, the vampire ruler sends a delegation to Blade asking for a truce. They want Blade to lead the Bloodpack, a sort of vampire SWAT team, on a mission to wipe out the new vampires. The vampires figure that if anybody can nail the Reapers, who are so nasty they feed on vampires instead of humans, Blade can.
The plot is fairly weak and has a number of gaping holes, but the characters and the fight scenes are entertaining enough to help make up for it. Blade’s cranky mentor/sidekick Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), the best thing about the first film, is back, courtesy of a brief sequence that has Blade rescuing him from a vampire torture chamber. The Bloodpack are a lot of fun as well, particularly their supplanted leader, Rheinhardt (Ron Perlman).
Like the first film, “Blade II” is essentially a cross between a Hong-Kong action flick and a comic-book horror story. The fight sequences are solid, taking full advantage of the enhanced speed and strength of everyone involved. Whistler is the only exception, being not only fully human but saddled with a bad leg, but his snarky dialog makes up for that. The Reapers are thoroughly creepy, being almost indestructible and not caring much what shape their prey is in when they settle down to feed.
The special effects of the film, for the most part, are quite good, from the thoroughly nasty Reaper makeup to the enhanced fight sequences. In a couple of spots the fights are completely computer-generated and look rather artificial, but for the most part everything is high-quality and you spend more time saying to yourself, “whoa, cool” than “whoa, the lame effects.”
The one place the film fails is in its plotline. Where “Blade” had a very streamlined plot (bad vampire wants to take over the world by resurrecting a vampire god; Blade and company stop him), “Blade II” falls prey to the current twist fad, and includes crosses, double-crosses, secrets, the works. Unfortunately, none of the twists are particularly surprising, and they simply result in a drawn-out ending that climaxes about three times.
If you’re willing to overlook the plot flaws and just enjoy the action and occasional humor of the film, “Blade II” works very well. On the other hand, if blood, gore, and lack of intellectual stimulation aren’t your cup of tea, spend your nine bucks elsewhere.